Honda Motorcyclesbook75
by Aaron Frank
192 pages, $34.95
Motorbooks Int’l, copyright 2003

 

by Thomas Day

This month’s selection is an exciting history of Honda motorcycles. Author Aaron Frank is a staff writer for Motorcyclist magazine and an admitted Honda fan. He writes with a passion for Honda motorcycles and for the man that started the firm. While this is the author’s first book, it is an outstanding chronicle that successfully captures more than fifty years of Honda engineering excellence.

All significant models are covered in enthusiastic detail. There are rich histories of milestone Honda machines like the GL 1000 Gold Wing, CB 750-4 and the motocross Elsinore model, as well as unexciting practical models like the 50cc Cub and CB/CL 350. The sale of these “ho-hum” models generated the capital that funded Honda’s engineering milestones.

Best of all is the attention Mr. Frank pays to Honda’s glorious race history. Starting in 1959, Mr. Honda himself decided that they needed to beat the established motorcycle giants on the racetrack. In a fury of engineering effort and staggering amounts of money, Honda rose from a nothing manufacturer of lightweights, to the dominant world player that earned dozens of race and championship wins in all GP classes. You get to read Honda America employee, Bob Hanson’s first-person account of winning Daytona on a CR-750 (Honda’s cheater race version of the now-legendary CB 750-4) in 1970, only to be fired one week later. This story itself is worth the purchase price.

Honda Motorcycles is loaded with excellent photography. Vreeke & Associates provided dozens of images from Honda’s early days in America including awesome shots of their 1960’s RC-series GP race bikes in action. Dozens of excellent magazine images were generously lent by Motorcyclist magazine. MMM loved the portraits of classic Hondas, shot by Jeff Hackett. In addition to the excellent black-and-white images, there are 125 pages of color photographs. This book has something to interest everyone who has ridden a motorcycle in the last forty years.

Honda Motorcycles contains everything that a great motorcycling book needs: passion, excitement, personal anecdotes and awesome photography. Whether or not you “Ride Red,” this book is an excellent account of one man’s vision to build the best motorcycles in the world. Four-out-of-four SOHC cylinders.

 

Verdict:

Hondaphobe–Exciting history of the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer.

Race Fan–Tales and pictures of 60’s GP racing alone well worth the price.

Hondaphile–Enough treasure to please the most hardcore Honda geek.

 

MMM welcomes your comments and book recommendations. Send e-mail to mnmc@comcast.net Please put “Book Review” in the subject line.

M.M.M.

 

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